Little-Known Heat Wave Health Hazards: Pollution + Hot Temps a Very Dangerous Combination for Unsuspecting Millions
With temperatures scorching across the nation, many Americans are hunkering down in their air-conditioned homes, venturing outside only when necessary. It’s nothing new during the dog days of summer … as temperatures rise, it can feel unbearable and may take a major toll on your health as well.
Even for those fortunate enough to have functioning air conditioning, (that is as long as your local electric utility service sustains power to your home and office), spending periods outdoors during a heat wave can be dangerous. And for those with no reprise to cool off in, the temperatures can quickly become deadly.
Steep Dangers if You Have a Chronic Disease or are Over 60
Do you suffer from heart disease, diabetes, obesity or chronic respiratory conditions or any related symptoms? You should know that you’re at an increased risk for heat-related injury and illness, according to a recent review in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
For instance, people with diabetes have an impaired ability to sweat that makes it difficult to manage high temperatures. Uncontrolled high blood sugar levels also make managing the heat more difficult. In fact, studies show that people with diabetes have increased emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths during hot weather.
Further, those over the age of 60 are also more likely to die during a heat wave, regardless of whether a chronic illness is present or not. Among this age group, studies show:
A decreased ability to detect heat
Slower physiological response to heat (slower sweating rate and blood distribution)
Ability to respond to thirst is delayed
It takes longer to recover from dehydration
All of these factors make it more difficult to manage excessive heat conditions.
Sleep-Disordered Breathing a Little-Known Hot Temp Danger
Up to 17 percent of adults are affected by sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), a group of disorders including sleep apnea that are associated with heart diseases -- and most do not know they have it.
Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health have now found two new connections between temperatures and air pollution and the chronic disorder.
During the summer months, when temperatures soar and air pollution is at its peak, the researchers found increases in participants’ Respiratory Disturbance Index, which was used to measure the severity of SDB.
"Particles [pollution in the air especially during heat waves] may influence sleep through effects on the central nervous system, as well as the upper airways," Antonella Zanobetti, Ph.D. told Science Daily. "… Our findings suggest that one mechanism for poor sleep and sleep health disparities may relate to environmental pollution levels” (both outdoors but potentially worse inside your home where particles can build up and be recirculated while you’re sleeping or trying to sleep).
Air Pollution Soars as Temperatures Rise
When the thermometer rises, air pollution levels also crest to a dangerous peak. According to Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality:
“ … When temperatures get into the 90s, pollution from cars and other machines can create unhealthy levels of smog. This smog, also known as ground-level ozone, can irritate the eyes, lungs, nose and contribute to breathing problems.”
The U.S. EPA also points out the impact of higher temperatures on air quality:
“Respiratory disorders may be exacerbated by warming-induced increases in the frequency of smog (ground-level ozone) events and particulate air pollution.
Ground-level ozone can damage lung tissue, and is especially harmful for those with asthma and other chronic lung diseases. Sunlight and high temperatures, combined with other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, can cause ground-level ozone to increase.”
Ozone is the most widespread form of air pollution at ground level and is generated by the combination of sunlight with hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide, two compounds emitted from cars, trucks, factories and power-generating plants. Once the ozone is inhaled and enters your lungs it can irritate your respiratory system, resulting in wheezing and coughing, and can even trigger asthma attacks. In more serious cases, it can:
Children and active adults are both in a higher risk bracket for health problems caused by unhealthy ozone levels because they naturally spend more time doing activities outdoors during the summer months, the time the ozone is at its peak. Other people more susceptible to the dangers of ozone include people living near heavy traffic or close to industrial sections and people with asthma or other kinds of respiratory problems.
Try to limit the amount of time spent outside, particularly engaging in vigorous activities during peak ozone level hours. If you’re going outside, go out during early morning hours or after sunset, the times of day the ozone levels are lower.
You should know, though, that air pollution can exist even inside of your home, often at levels far higher than those outdoors. You may be surprised to learn that the Environmental Protection Agency says indoor air can be anywhere from two to five times as polluted as outdoor air -- and sometimes more than 100 times more polluted!
Improving Air Quality Indoors: A Simple Pollution
When the weather is hot and air quality poor, keep your air conditioning turned on and the windows closed. Then, based on our investigations we found and recommend you filter your home’s air using the unique top-rated PIONAIR air treatment system.
The unique PIONAIR Smarte Pointe Air Treatment System on the other hand, which Sixwise.com has researched and highly recommends, uses photocatalysis, which is designed to oxidize organic odors, germs, and fungi. The PIONAIR technology creates ultraviolet light rays, safe levels of ozone, and passive negative ions as part of your air treatment.
Natural air purification is performed by the UV light rays of the sun and ozone, which is produced by thunderstorms. This is why air smells so fresh after a thunderstorm. Ion generation occurs in nature from lightning and ultraviolet radiation.
The PIONAIR technology uses these natural methods by creating ultraviolet light rays, safe levels of ozone, and passive negative ions as part of your air treatment process. The other part of the process is a catalyst made from Ti02 (titanium dioxide), that when activated, generates hydroxyl radicals and super oxide ions. This system is not an air filter. It is an air purifier duplicating Nature's own methods of air cleaning and revitalization.
Ions, electrically charged particles that are positive or negative, occur naturally in nature. There is a natural balance maintained by nature, and the ratio is approximately 6 positive ions to 5 negative ions. Indoors, this ratio is off balance because of the abundance of positive ions and the lack of negative ions.
This disruption of the natural balance is primarily caused by building materials used in the structures in which we spend 90% of our time. The negative ion gives up its charge to the pollutants such as dust, pollen, bacteria, smoke, and formaldehyde. This new negative particle attracts positive particles until they become heavy enough to fall out of the air we breathe. This process is called "agglomeration." PIONAIR™ units produce negative ions, duplicating this natural process, thereby reducing these and other particles in the air.
The SMART POINTE uses the same technology as the original PIONAIR system, with the added benefit of actively generated negative ions. These actively generated negative ions clear the air of particulate FASTER than the original PIONAIR system. Therefore, the PIONAIR SMART POINTE is effective against particulate such as pollen, dust, pet dander, and smoke, AS WELL AS mold, mildew, organic odors, and chemical vapors (such as formaldehyde).
During your commute,try to avoid excessive idling and jackrabbit starts and during the summer months refuel your car either early in the morning or late in the evening to reduce the amount of evaporative emissions that are emitted from the gas tank during the hot hours of the day.
Also, you can purify the air in your car when you’re on the road – or on a plane or train -- with a personal air purifier. The Car Ionizer uses negative ions to eliminate pollutants and allergens from the air in your car. There are no filters to be changed and it can be recharged over and over by plugging it into your car adapter.
More Heat Wave Dangers …
Exposure to high temperatures can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, especially when hot temps are combined with high humidity and physical activity. When your body becomes unable to cool itself efficiently, it can lead to heat cramps, and then to symptoms of heat exhaustion, which include heavy sweating, goose bumps, faintness, low blood pressure, nausea, headache, fatigue and dizziness.
If you experience these symptoms, move to a cooler place, drink some water or a drink containing electrolytes, and if possible take a cool shower or bath. If you don’t feel better in about an hour, seek medical help right away.
If you’ve spent time in hot weather and experience a lack of sweating, high body temperature, flushed skin, rapid breathing or racing heart rate, seizure, loss of consciousness, hallucinations, muscle cramps, headaches, or weakness, these are signs of heat stroke.
Heat stroke can be deadly, so if you’ve progressed past the point of heat exhaustion you need to seek medical attention immediately.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Heat-Related Illness …
When the temperatures soar, taking a few extra precautions can keep you safe and healthy …
Spend some time in an air-conditioned location. Your body needs a break from the heat from time to time, so if you don’t have air conditioning in your home, spend some time in a library, mall or other public location that does. If you can’t get to an air-conditioned location, a cool shower, a fan, or even covering yourself in a sheet dampened with cool water can help you cool off.
SixWise Says ...
"What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance."
~ Jane Austen
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American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine June 10, 2010
ScienceDaily.com June 21, 2010
ScienceDaily.com June 21, 2010
ScienceDaily.com August 26, 2009
MyCentralOregon.com July 8, 2010
U.S. EPA: Climate Change, Health and Environmental Effects
MayoClinic.com Heat Exhaustion
MayoClinic.com Heat Stroke